Abromeitiella (Deuterocohnia) (2009)

By Eric Driskill (February 2009)

I work to update my plant tags when plants are reclassified, though seldom do I find myself in a rush about it. Sometimes, for sentimental reasons, I conveniently overlook a tag when I want to hold onto that old name. My abromeitiella, for example, will shortly become a deuterocohnia, and I can’t help but think that Johannes Abromeit is somehow getting the short end of the stick here.

The genus Abromeitiella was named after the German botanist Johannes Abromeit. Plants which were once described as belonging to the genus have since been reclassified as Deuterocohnia. Deuterocohnia is named for Ferdinand Julius Cohn, a German naturalist and botanist known for his studies of algae, bacteria and fungi who is considered one of the founders of bacteriology.

Native to northwestern Argentina, deuterocohnias belong to the Bromeliaceae family, subfamily Pitcairnioideae. The plants form rosettes, growing very slowly into tight mat- or pin cushion-shaped specimens. The rosettes are 1.2 to 2 inches in diameter and form a mound up to 3 feet in diameter. Individual rosettes look very similar to a tiny agave or dyckia. Triangular leaves end in a needle-sharp spine and have sharp, rigid teeth at the leaf margins.

The narrow, tubular flowers are produced in threes on the inflorescence. The flowers of most Deuterocohnia species are a green or yellowish-green color. Although the flowers are not very dynamic, one look at a tightly grown specimen clearly demonstrates the beauty of this genus.

The plants should be grown, like most other succulents, in well-draining soil. Deuterocohnias are drought tolerant, although they do like more water during summer months. Intense light will produce very tight, compact growth.

Plants do well and show very nicely in shallow pots. You may want to consider adding rocks in your pot to help crowd the rosettes more tightly together. Growth is quite slow, and while plants can eventually grow into large mats, it is easy to maintain plants at a manageable size by pruning. Deuterocohnias can be propagated by seed, but more often new plants are acquired by division.

This is a plant worthy of addition to your collection. There are numerous photos to peruse with a simple Google image search. You can also see a photo of Larry Grammer’s exquisite plant in Pachyforms II, Bonsai Succulents, by Philippe de Vosjoli, which will surely entice you to add this plant to your wish list.